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0100_005E The Lost Prince Frances Hodgson Burnett

XXX The Game Is at an End

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``Ivor! Ivor!'' they chanted like a prayer,--``Ivor! Ivor!'' in their houses, by the roadside, in the streets.

``The story of the Coronation in the shattered Cathedral, whose roof had been torn to fragments by bombs,'' said an important London paper, ``reads like a legend of the Middle Ages. But, upon the whole, there is in Samavia's national character, something of the mediaeval, still.''

Lazarus, having bought and read in his top floor room every newspaper recording the details which had reached London, returned to report almost verbatim, standing erect before Marco, the eyes under his shaggy brows sometimes flaming with exultation, sometimes filled with a rush of tears. He could not be made to sit down. His whole big body seemed to have become rigid with magnificence. Meeting Mrs. Beedle in the passage, he strode by her with an air so thunderous that she turned and scuttled back to her cellar kitchen, almost falling down the stone steps in her nervous terror. In such a mood, he was not a person to face without something like awe.

In the middle of the night, The Rat suddenly spoke to Marco as if he knew that he was awake and would hear him.

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``He has given all his life to Samavia!'' he said. ``When you traveled from country to country, and lived in holes and corners, it was because by doing it he could escape spies, and see the people who must be made to understand. No one else could have made them listen. An emperor would have begun to listen when he had seen his face and heard his voice. And he could be silent, and wait for the right time to speak. He could keep still when other men could not. He could keep his face still--and his hands--and his eyes. Now all Samavia knows what he has done, and that he has been the greatest patriot in the world. We both saw what Samavians were like that night in the cavern. They will go mad with joy when they see his face!''

``They have seen it now,'' said Marco, in a low voice from his bed.

Then there was a long silence, though it was not quite silence because The Rat's breathing was so quick and hard.

``He--must have been at that coronation!'' he said at last. ``The King--what will the King do to--repay him?''

Marco did not answer. His breathing could be heard also. His mind was picturing that same coronation--the shattered, roofless cathedral, the ruins of the ancient and magnificent high altar, the multitude of kneeling, famine-scourged people, the battle-worn, wounded and bandaged soldiery! And the King! And his father! Where had his father stood when the King was crowned? Surely, he had stood at the King's right hand, and the people had adored and acclaimed them equally!

``King Ivor!'' he murmured as if he were in a dream. ``King Ivor!''

The Rat started up on his elbow.

``You will see him,'' he cried out. ``He's not a dream any longer. The Game is not a game now--and it is ended--it is won! It was real--HE was real! Marco, I don't believe you hear.''

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The Lost Prince
Frances Hodgson Burnett

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